Governments in many industrialized nations are negotiating a number of international deals, but one of them currently being negotiated by 23 nations including Canada is being kept very secretive. It’s called the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA
Scott Sinclair is a co-author of a critical analysis. He is a Senior Research Fellow for the left-of-centre policy think tank at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.Listen
The paper was commissioned by Public Service International (PSI), a global trade union representing over 100 million public sector workers in some 154 countries.
The report is entitled “TISA versus Public Services: The Trade in Services Agreement and the Corporate Agenda”
The report suggests this trade deal, being negotiated separately and outside of World Trade Organization jurisdiction, will put public healthcare, broadcasting, water, transport and other public services at risk of permanent takeover by giant multinationals.
It also says these international deals increasing are edging into constitutional areas and tying government’s hands in many regulatory areas.
While TISA does not oblige governments to cede control to corporate interests, when privatization of services is allowed, the deal would make it virtually impossible for governments to undo privatization or take back control of a sector, from municipal water supply, to public auto insurance.
There are also concerns about government’s ability to regulate sectors such as cross border data-flows, energy, telecoms, and financial sectors.
Treating manpower as a service, governments would be limited in their ability to require hiring of nationals for employment opportunities, which is already a major issue in Canada as a result of the domestic programme called the Temporary Foreign Worker programme.
PSI says that commodifying services as a trade issue is fundamentally misinterpreting public services, which it says “are designed to provide vital social and economic necessities – such as health care and education – affordably, universally and on the basis of need”
It goes on to say, “public services are fundamental to ensure effective regulation to avoid environmental, social and economic disasters – such as the global financial crisis and global warming. Trade agreements consciously promote commercialisation and define goods and services in terms of their ability to be exploited for profit by global corporations.”
Scott Sinclair says his concern is the unusually high level of secrecy surrounding these negotiations which are scheduled to be completed in 2015.
The other co-author of the report, Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood is from the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in Ottawa